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Happy New Year! (1/1/2003)
I would like to thank everyone who visited this site (and the other RatbagsDotCom sites) during 2002. November was the biggest month ever (December is always a bit down because of holidays), so I must still be doing something right. Thanks also to all the people who took time out to email me during the year (I get many more complimentary and helpful messages than I do complaints or hate mail), and I really, really promise to answer a bigger proportion of mail next year. I apologise to anyone who wrote and didn't get a reply, but sometimes things get really busy and sometimes real life gets in the way. I can't end the year without again thanking all the people at ISP Enet21 who were so helpful when the previous ISP hosting this site (and my business site and those of several of my clients) sank beneath the waves.
For 2003, I hope that you all get what you need (even if it isn't necessarily what you want), and that the sabres being rattled in the direction of Iraq and North Korea are still in their scabbards at the end of the year. I spent the last minutes of 2002 two blocks from the Villawood Detention Centre which was being burned by the inmates at the time, so I hope that Australia can develop some better arrangements for handling illegal immigrants. Hoping that the world's refugee problem will go away would be futile, of course, but it would be nice to think that the countries where people desire to live can manage their small parts of the solution equitably and humanely. One big hope for 2003 is that that year will see the last case of polio infection anywhere in the world. When I was the age of my younger daughter, every hospital had a few people in iron lungs and the goal of eradication of polio looked unattainable. My grandson will grow up in a world where it is just a bad memory.
When I look at the poor results achieved by professional psychics in predicting the events of 2002, I, as an amateur, would want to be very careful in making predictions. I will predict, however, that both this site and I personally will continue to be attacked by people who don't like what they see here. I also predict that these attacks will fail. Another prediction is that the opposition to the NSW anti-quackery committee that I am involved with will continue (and will get dirtier) as the proponents of snake oil and health fraud become increasingly more desperate to prevent themselves being asked to prove that they can do what they say they can do. Again I predict that these attacks will fail. Alas, I predict that the fraud, bigotry, hatred and lying exhibited by the sites listed in The Millenium Project will continue, and new outrages will be invented as fast as decent people can fight the old ones. I certainly won't have to close this site for want of business. Happy New Year, everyone, and keep coming back in 2003. It will be a very good year.
New RatbagsDotCom site launched (1/1/2003)
People often write to me with the reasonable question that if I have a list of places I don't like or which contain bad information, why don't I tell people where to get good information? This question has now been answered by a new RatbagsDotCom site called "The Green Light". This new site will follow the pattern of categories used here in The Millenium Project. It won't just list sites which directly counter the nonsense in the sites listed here, but will list reference sites and places where useful (and factual) information which relates to the various categories can be found. The site launched with just over 100 entries, and new listings will be added approximately weekly. Most of the listings will be accompanied by a short description saying why they have been included.
Harassment Hoopla (1/1/2003)
What would Christmas be without a present from some harassing fool who is so frightened that it won't say who it is or where it comes from? The following piece of nonsense turned up a few days ago. I was half-expecting to hear from Mr William P O'Neill of the Canadian Cancer Research group, but getting a message from the Gutless Anonymous Liar is just as good.
Thank you for the plug, Mister Bowditch! I was so delighted to see my site listed, that I just had to thank you! I c.c.'ed my thanks, however, in a little more detail, to your local police. Talked to a rather nice young man named Peroni. He tells me he's looking into other complaints concerning you. Also c.c.'ed some of your government people who regulate you and your ISP. They were kind enough to advise that they too were looking into complaints concerning you and concerning a Mister Jenninigs who hosts your great site! Your government people tell me they're working with the police to have you charged!
How delightful to see you get what you deserve!
By the way, I posted my interest in a usenet group and learned so mucg about you: from extortion to uttering death threats! Good work!
A secret admirer!
In late-breaking news, GAL sent the following message through on New Year's Day, just as I was about to publish this update. Although I know that I don't have to take any notice (people with real threats use their real names), I think I will declare it the first Vacuous Legal Threat of 2003.
January is going to be a great month for you! We are advised criminal charges will laid against you and you will be served in an unusual civil action.
Yurko Update (1/1/2003)
Murderer Alan Yurko has now got someone claiming that the child he killed was really killed by the doctors who treated the child after he was admitted to hospital. The person doing the claiming is infamous for also believing that HIV has nothing to do with AIDS, so any claim to scientific credibility can be completely discounted. The interesting thing, though, is that Yurko is still the darling of the anti-vaccination liars despite now seemingly saying that it wasn't the vaccine that killed the child but heparin administered after Yurko pulped the baby's brain. I will have a story about this here soon, but in the meantime it will be fascinating to watch the cognitive dissonance of the Yurko supporters as they try to rationalise the realisation that he and his accomplice wife have been stringing them on all along.
2002 Awards coming soon (1/1/2003)
The time needed to set up the Green Light site and its associated database software was a bit more than expected, so I have deferred the announcement of the 2002 Millenium Awards until 11 January when the next update of this site will be published. There wasn't enough time to do a proper evaluation of the listed sites or the year's stories and issues, and I prefer to do things properly. (There is an odd convention of describing inadequate work as "half-" something. Has anyone ever had a boss who said "From now on, things will improve. We will no longer accept work that is not fully baked and fully arsed"?) To hone your anticipation you can look at the 1999, 2000 and 2001 awards.
|2002 Millenium Awards
The Millenium Awards for 2002 have been announced. Here are the winners.
Speaking of Clonaid ... (11/1/2003)
What a con job! The Raelians managed to get enormous publicity around the world at the end of 2002 with their ridiculous claim that they had cloned a human being. Credulous reporters competed with each other to write the story for newspapers or tell it on television. News editors ran around trying to get exclusive scoops with the first pictures. Millions of dollars worth of free publicity was generated, publicity which will encourage vain, stupid and excessively-wealthy people to give money to this bunch of whackos. And what happened when the "cloners" were asked for some evidence? They suddenly found out that the "parents" wanted privacy! This just tells us what sensible people knew all along - there is no clone, there are only lies.
So what will happen the next time a pack of fraudsters comes along and says "We think that there were no people before 25,000 years ago. We think that aliens came from space and made people. We have made a baby and we beat all the real scientists who have been trying to do this"? Will the media give them credibility, or will they be told to go away and stop bothering the adults? Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to these questions.
Yurko Update (11/1/2003)
Murderer Alan Yurko has now got someone claiming that the child he killed was really killed by the doctors who treated the child after he was admitted to hospital. The person doing the claiming is infamous for also believing that HIV has nothing to do with AIDS, so any claim to scientific credibility can be completely discounted. The interesting thing, though, is that Yurko is still the darling of the anti-vaccination liars despite now seemingly saying that it wasn't the vaccine that killed the child but heparin administered after Yurko pulped the baby's brain. The story is being promoted across the Internet using the title "Rat Poison Killed Yurko 'Shaken Baby'", with the suggestion that the boy's name was "Alan Yurko". Heparin is not rat poison, the baby's name was not Alan Yurko (his mother did not marry the killer until after his conviction for murdering her son), and what killed the child was a violent assault so the scare quotes around the words "shaken baby" are just another form of lying.
It is fascinating to watch the cognitive dissonance of the Yurko supporters as they try to rationalise the realisation that he and his accomplice wife have been stringing them on all along. One example of this is that I have been challenged to say how I like my "crow served - stewed, fried or baked" (someone else added that I will probably eat it with bullshit) now that Yurko has been vindicated. The person writing this didn't seem to notice that Yurko is now saying that the vaccine didn't do it. (The murderer's wife has been talking about medical negligence rather than vaccines for some time now, preparing the way for a lawsuit. For her, this is really only about money and getting the killer out of prison.)
Speaking of predictions ... (11/1/2003)
The predictions are starting to come true already. The hosting ISP for this site was given 24 hours from 7 January by Mr William P O'Neill to cease hosting or broadcasting this site or they would be enjoined in the coming legal firestorm that is about to engulf me. Apparently, the same threat is being made against the registrar of the ratbags.com domain name and the ISP's upstream bandwidth supplier. Government authorities have also been informed of the threats. Just to refresh his memory, Mr O'Neill can file complaints about Internet content on Australian web sites with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and the bringing of criminal libel charges will probably require the assistance of the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions. All of this deserves its own counter.
Boyd Graves and AIDS (18/1/2003)
Mr Graves outside the UN with his "evidence".
HGH spammer (18/1/2003)
You could be needlessly cutting an extra 45 years off your lifespan.
Even if you believe you're in perfect health.
Learn the signs and what you can do to avoid it.
Free detailed report at:
The message above was spammed to goodness knows how many people on Monday 13 January. I wouldn't normally bother with something like this, but my email address was one of the ones used in the "From:" header of the messages. Not only did this make it look like I was sending out this rubbish, but I was the one who received the bounce messages for undeliverable mail. I wasn't the only one affected, and it looks like the spammer selected the "From:" addresses from the newsgroup misc.health.alternative, presumably under the impression that it would add some credibility if messages appeared to come from people who were regular participants in an alt-med discussion forum. The newsgroup resembles a virtual bar-room brawl at times, but this was an occasion when people from quite diverse camps could sympathise with each other.
It came as no surprise to me that someone selling the false hopes and health fraud of Human Growth Hormone should stoop to a deceptive form of marketing which abused the rights (and the names and reputations) of unconnected parties. After all, lying is his business. The lesson for the spammer is that this sort of behaviour is not very productive (the site has now been closed by the hosting ISP). The lesson for others is that if you want to complain about spam, don't bother complaining to or about the person that it seems to come from. Almost inevitably this person will be a victim too, but will be receiving hundreds more messages than you are. Look for the true financial beneficiary of the spam and go after them. And never buy anything from spammers.
Get zapped and healed (18/1/2003)
I will be giving a talk at a dinner to be held by the Australian Skeptics on Saturday, 22 February. The talk will be about health fraud and quackery, and there will be exhibits of quack medical devices and products and maybe even some diagnosing and curing, some allergy testing, some chi and chakra aligning and perhaps even a demonstration of the faith healing Millenial Power. Anyone is welcome to come along, and you can book your place through the online store at the Australian Skeptics web site.
Somebody didn't like what I said (18/1/2003)
Maintaining the tradition of stupid headlines for articles, the SickofDoctors site which originated the "Rat Poison Killed Yurko 'Shaken Baby'" nonsense responded to what I wrote last week with a story headed "'Ratbag' Scoffs at Yurko Case Breakthrough". If there had been a "breakthrough" I might have had something to scoff at, but this is just the latest in a long list of reasons given for the death of Alan Ream which has included DTaP vaccination, scurvy, meningitis, coagulopathy, diabetes, chest infections and medical negligence. Everything, in fact, except the truth, which is that a man with a violent past acted in his usual manner, resulting in the traumatic death of a child. I notice that when quoting me on the SickofDoctors site, the paragraph above about how Yurko was now saying that the vaccine didn't do it was omitted. Why can't any anti-vaccination liar answer the question - what are you going to do now that Yurko has abandoned you? I must admit, however, that Fintan Dunne who runs SickofDoctors is probably driven by a hatred of medicine generally rather than any specific anti-vaccination agenda, so he would support any claim which suggested that doctors were wrong. When that claim comes from another AIDS denier like Al-Bayati it probably carries more weight in that particular ward of the madhouse.
In another example of poor quoting, Mr Dunne looked at the Green Light site and accused me of making "fawning" statements about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The words he has me fawning are not mine but come from the Gates Foundation web site. Mr Dunne obviously has some issues with the Gates Foundation and goes on to make a real fool of himself by talking about the Foundation's investments. He picks out investments in Merck, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and tries to make out that the Gates Foundation supports vaccination because it makes these companies profitable and therefore somehow makes Bill Gates and the Foundation wealthier. The total world market for vaccines is about 5% of the total revenues for these companies combined so it can hardly be seen as a big money-earner for them, and when you see that the investments of the Gates Foundation come to 0.6% of Merck shares, 0.2% of Pfizer and 0.18% of J&J, it is obvious that even if vaccines were immensely profitable the returns to the Gates Foundation would be minimal. If Bill Gates really wanted to make money he would buy into a company called Microsoft, which has a market capitalisation greater than any of the three pharmaceutical companies mentioned, and is, in fact, worth just a little less than Merck and J&J combined. It took me about ten minutes to find out these financial details, so there is no excuse for Mr Dunne not to know them.
The selective quoting, misattribution of words and the use of isolated facts with the assumption that readers will not be able to find out the real context are typical hallmarks of the anti-medicine campaigners. They have no science or facts on their side so they have to resort to lies, innuendo, half-truths and character attacks. With this denial and rejection of the concepts and rules of honest discourse, it is not surprising to find that they can believe that a murderer is a hero.
Mad people alert (25/1/2003)
Anyone who has spent any time listening to late-night loon talk-back radio or who has had any contact with UFO nuts recently would be aware that during 2003 Earth is supposedly going to be visited by the mysterious Tenth Planet of the Solar System, Nibaru. (Sometimes it's the twelfth planet, but using ten means that it can be called "Planet X", which is a much better name.) Apparently, the people from this planet are going to restore order on earth and rule the place again, or some such nonsense. I usually don't take much notice of this sort of loopiness (although I listed the Nibaruan Embassy in Quintessence of the Loon), but the true believers indulged in a particularly nasty piece of conspiracising this week.
Last weekend Australia's capital city, Canberra, was afflicted by bushfires. Hundreds of homes were lost and several people died. One property victim of the fires was the Mount Stromlo Observatory. The Observatory has been totally destroyed and will cost many millions of dollars to rebuild. All the telescopes were lost, as well as the accumulated research and memorabilia (it was built in 1924 and contained astronomical records, instruments and equipment from decades before that). The conspiracy nuts have announced that the building was deliberately burned down, presumably by government agents. The evidence for this is that it was the only observatory in the southern hemisphere capable of detecting Nibaru and the government wanted to keep the imminent arrival of the heavenly body a secret. Another piece of evidence is that it is true that other buildings have been deliberately torched. I really don't know how these fools make this stuff up, but the unfortunate thing is that (like the recent idiocy about the Raelians cloning a baby) people who should have better things to do have their time wasted because they have to respond to crackpots.
An audio-visual experience nobody wants (25/1/2003)
In a vaccination debate forum this week someone mentioned that their child had caught whooping cough, or pertussis. An anti-vaccinator ridiculed the concerned mother and made fun of anyone who would be worried that their "precious child" could be affected by such a harmless disease. As pertussis is one of the few diseases where the symptoms can be recorded and demonstrated, I pointed the anti-vaccinator towards a five-minute video of children with pertussis and some recordings of the sounds of the disease. The response was both pathetic and predictable. No apology for calling pertussis "not that big of a deal", no acknowledgement that a parent of a child with whooping cough has real reasons for concern. Just name-calling. One aspect of the hypocrisy of the anti-vaccination liars is the way they apply different standards to themselves and others. While they demand that anybody who supports vaccination must take full responsibility for any possible damage that the vaccines may cause, they refuse to accept that their own advice might have adverse consequences and they simply refuse to take any responsibility for their own actions. You can see some pictures here of children with vaccine-preventable diseases. The anti-vaccination liars must want to see more of this. What other motivation could they have, once it becomes obvious that the issue is not vaccine safety but the very existence of the vaccines themselves?
Congratulations, Professor Fiona Stanley (25/1/2003)
It would come as no surprise to anyone who knows my position on vaccination that I hold in great contempt people who would harm children or prevent them from receiving proper medical care. The other side to this is the respect I have for people who devote their lives to increasing the wellbeing of children. I was particularly pleased to see that out of the eight nominees for 2003 Australian of the Year, four were nominated for their work with children (and another was nominated for the part he had played in the eradication of smallpox). The winner was Professor Fiona Stanley of the University of Western Australia and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research. In her acceptance speech, Professor Stanley said that "nothing could be more important for the future capacity of Australia than valuing children". I would like to congratulate Professor Stanley (and all the other nominees). These people are the true heroes in our society.
Spam of the week (25/1/2003)
Everyone knows the cliché about being offered a set of steak knives as an inducement to buy something, usually from some late-night, cheaply-made television commercial. Well, someone has decided to cut straight to the chase and offer the steak knives directly. I half expected another email to come in a few minutes later saying "But wait, there's more! Order in the next ten minutes and you will receive a free exercise machine". At least it made a change from spam about pyramid schemes and women waiting breathlessly by their webcams for me to pay them a visit.
Professional Steak Knife BLOWOUT !
They slice right through even the toughest of meat with ease!
Don't be fooled by imitations that you might see in your local store, these knives are only sold directly to the major steak houses like:
* Outback Steakhouse
* Lone Star Steak House
* Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
* Morton's Steakhouse
And the genitally-challenged still write ...
Remember when your mother said "Stop it or you will go blind"? It must still be true because people who obviously cannot see keep writing to me asking if I can make their penises bigger. This is despite a quite clear (and large) message on the page with my collection of penis-enlargement spam saying that I don't think I can help. I have made the type bigger, but I might have to add a loud voice message as well. I could refer them to the Make Penis Fast chain letter, but I worry that somebody might believe it.